Coral Bracho – The Transparency of the Poem

Coral Bracho visited Calgary and Banff on the occasion of PanCanadian WordFest 98. Coral is a poet of sparse words. She prefers her poetry to speak on her behalf. We sat in the lobby of Margaret Graham Theatre, at the Banff Centre, the Bow river meandering in the valley below. filling Station interviewed Coral Bracho and we explored her latest book of poetry, “La voluntad del ámbar” as well as the themes of water and light which permeate her work.

Coral Bracho has written Peces de piel fugaz (1977), El ser que va a morir (1982), Tierra de entrana ardiente (1992, in collaboration with the painter Irma Palacios) and La voluntad del ámbar (1998).

In english her work appears in New Writing from Mexico (1992). She is a recipient of the Premio de Poesia de Aguascalientes.


paulo da costa: I am enchanted by the sensuality of the words in “La voluntad del ámbar” and by the focus of your poetic eye on the interplay between water and light. What urges you to explore such place of contact, a place where the liquid and the luminous worlds touch?

Coral Bracho: If we could decipher what happens in that place of intersection between water and light, we might find some kind of human and perhaps universal calmness. The poem in which this image is more explicit is called “Con abismada transparencia”, there, it suggests some kind of enlightenment, a moment of sensing or experiencing deepness and transparency at the same time.

Con abismada transparencia

Eres el fuego del inicio

eres la luz

en el instante sabio

de hacinarse en el agua.

Eres la voz, la transparencia que penetra,

que engendra;

la nota viva y diáfana

que cae,

con el candor de una certeza

en el centro

del alma.


In the book “La voluntad del ámbar” there are also other poems where the sensation of water is important. It sometimes relates to erotic pleasure or to broader forms of pleasure, to love. The depth in water I link to the sense of the mysterious, the sensual and the intellectual questioning or suggestiveness of water.

pdc: In “La voluntad del ámbar,” you seem to be enamoured by the beautifully sounding word, caudal. Like an ever flowing fountain you return often to this word. What brings you again and again to caudal?

CB: Caudal is about water, and of course about a profusion of water, about movement, about plenitude. The word fascinates me. I am also drawn to end verses with such a sound or to sustain them on it. It has a weight and at the same time a continuity-something like an echo- I am attracted to, and which imposes, in some way, its return, its resonance.

pdc: Is water an element that runs through your previous poetic work?

CB: Yes, water is a motif in my previous work, along with other elements, like air, earth. In “Tierra de entraña ardiente” 1992, written in collaboration with the painter Irma Palacios – I fell in love with her paintings which are geological, filled with rock formations and so on – I focused, for example, on those earth based themes.

pdc: In the poem, La voz indígena, there first appears to be a departure from the theme of water.

CB: La voz indígena is a small but very important poem for me.

In the context of what has been happening in Chiapas I believe the vital importance of Indian heritage goes far beyond that which we can express or even expect. They are heartfelt, wise and bewildering people; they have been colonized and exploited for so long. Now that they have requested the minimal, minimal conditions for survival, they are being not only rejected but killed. To go against people that have nothing and yet could give us so much is the saddest thing that has happened in México.

pdc: Even though La voz indígena, does not directly refer to water, in my interpretation the poem speaks of those people who have been most connected to water, to earth.

CB: They are the most connected to nature. They are the people who truly love what they have. And the only thing they have is their contact with the land, the wildlife. They are most caring and loving. They have been in touch with the land for centuries, they live in and with nature and in a loving way. They understand the land.


La voz indígena

Es un dolor

de voz que se apaga. De voz eterna

y profunda

que así se apaga. Que así se apaga

para nosotros.


pdc: Thank you for bringing to Canada your words and a taste of the poetry of México.

CB: Thank you for your unique hospitality and kindness.


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